Latest TTC course was European History and European Lives: 1715 to 1914 by Jonathan Steinberg. 36 half-hour lectures.
Interesting experiment: he's trying to tell the story of the creation of modern Europe through biographies of statesmen, scientists, artists and writers. Roughly the first half of each lecture is a description of the context, the second half a biography, often concentrating on key events.
Has the weakness you'd expect: there's just not enough time. Found it interesting for the figures I knew little about: Augustus the Strong, Louis Pasteur, C.P.E. Bach, Friedrich Krupp, N.M. Rothschild. But didn't really learn much more about Charles Darwin or Karl Marx. I'm moderately familiar with European history so would have liked more biography and less background, but then the biographies would have been unintelligible to beginners.
Overall, could be worthwhile if you want an introduction to European history with some neat character sketches, but not really worthwhile if you know some already.
- Louis Pasteur had trouble with his University entrance exams: failed to get into his first choice altogether, and had to sit the exams twice to make his second.
- Napoleon made use of plebiscites: always handy for a populist tyrant.
- C.P.E. Bach and Goya were pioneers at making a living through selling to a mass audience as well as wealthy patrons.
- Steinberg reckons that the 1709 English copyright act was instrumental in allowing independent writers to make a living.
- Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II tried to introduce Enlightenment reforms by dictat from above, but failed due to resistance from the noble class, and impractical centralization
- "Burke became the prophet of a right wing that he would not have liked. His real disciples were not liberals but reactionaries, anti-Semites, and enemies of the modern world."
- Hebrew and dialects gave Jews a secure "encryption" which helped in money transfers: a highwayman couldn't know what was in a letter of credit
- Giuseppe Mazzini
- "The novelist Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873) "invented" modern Italian when he decided to write a novel in Italian in 1821."
- Steinberg on Anglo-American misunderstanding. "In England, the best thing you can be is amusing or clever; and the worst is tiresome or a bore. In America, the best thing you can be is sincere or genuine; and the worst is a phoney."
- "Napoleon III caused the weakening of Austria, defeated Austria in a war in 1859, and thus, created the necessary conditions for the rise of Bismarck and Prussia"
- Unlike a typical Prussian aristocrat, Otto von Bismarck never served in the army, and had a bourgeois education including a law degree.
Grabbed four courses on special offer.
- Understanding the Human Factor: Life and Its Impact (i.e. history of agriculture)
- Origin of Civilization
- Thinking about Capitalism
- Age of Henry VIII
Graphs. Migrants to US acquire English faster. (via). Interactive US internal migration.
Where is their evidence that manacling our language to past usage is at all helpful or necessary? It would only stand in the way of the all-conquering self-diversification that has made English the global lingua franca, and allowed "lingua franca" to become an English phrase, while the French kick impotently against "le weekend"...
But what most annoys about the scheme is that it completely misses the point of linguistic pedantry. It's no fun prissily adhering to grammatical rules if it's mandatory. This academy wishes to turn something I have chosen to do -- an attitude by which I define myself -- into something I'm forced to do, along with everyone else. That's like making everyone support Manchester United.
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